“Most of us who come to buy Alta Moda have men in our lives, and they need clothes too.” So reasoned the client sat alongside me on one of the velvet banquettes that lined the battlements of Naples’s mighty Castel dell’Ovo last night. Strictly speaking, she and the several hundred other women who make the annual summer pilgrimage to party hard and spend large at Dolce & Gabbana’s Italian couture presentation could skip this menswear “Alta Sartoria” equivalent that follows it. Yet when the red moon kissed the horizon of the Bay of Naples in front of us and the first of 93 models emerged to the wah-wah croon of Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger,” my seatmate and her neighbors became suddenly totally focused. A model named Maxim Nazarov with abs as hard and defined as the flagstones he walked upon wore only a pair of black and silver-sequined and pin-studded shorts; he prompted an especially dense concentration of phone-wielding raised arms. The women watching were probably more motivated to record his torso than his swimming trunks, it’s true, but the entire spectrum of this luxurious wardrobe proposition for men received their complete attention too.
Just like the women’s, Alta Sartoria offers its male clients a totally bespoke clothes-making service. The highest category in the pantheon of masculine attire is tailoring and here it was expressed as an homage to this show’s host city. The famous soft Neapolitan shoulder was draped with exquisitely ergonomic precision on suiting and tuxedos in cream or black top-stitched linen, raw silk, and gray three-pieces in fine wool. Peacock tuxedo jackets came in manifold iridescent options: glittering black, white, or scarlet paillettes; in checkerboard or zigzag arrays of precision-stitched sequins; and silk vistas of Naples lent 3-D impact via sequin accents, a technique also used in the womenswear collection.
Tailoring is the heart but not the whole of the Alta Sartoria service: the designers try to apply the handmade rubric to every part of their clients’ lives. So last night they used the conceit of a James Bond theme for a jet-set tour of alpha context. One of the earliest looks was a tailored, shooting-patched scuba suit. Backstage this look had been bundled with a gold-plated scuba tank but it was far too heavy to lug down the runway. Those trunks were an homage to Daniel Craig’s form in Casino Royale, the gray three-piece was a kiss blown to Sean Connery in Goldfinger, and a pair of drill flares worn above a monogrammed JB shirt was a shot at The Man With the Golden Gun era–Roger Moore. There were also two fine Dr. No–nodding collarless jackets in orange and purple silk. Less literally luxury-heroic were the tennis, speedboat, and racing-car-print kaftans; shirts, shorts, and gowns in silk; a silver-sequined basketball ensemble; and a series of racing-suits and bombers that felt almost weightless. Foulard printed astrological gowns, jackets, and pants were more artfully disheveled handsome-devil options for evening. Denim was luxurified via sequin encrustation, and croc—not mock—was an accent throughout; especially powerful was a long, black, hitman-perfect double-breasted coat and an outrageous tennis bag. Even the golf iron covers were croc.
By the end of it all Bassey had belted through several of her mighty standards and the models lined the runway in front of us. A boat moored offshore unleashed a ferocious five-minute volley of fireworks as the designers took their bow, then urged the crowd to rise from their banquettes. Alta Moda clients jostled for starburst-lit selfies with the models and directed their significant others to the looks they liked the best. This was clothing for men of means beyond this average joe’s wildest dreams, and it was deeply diverting to witness.
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